Autism diagnosis and environment

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The study conductor(s)
The participant(s)
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The study conductor(s)top
University of California researchers
The participant(s)top
Population sample of reported cases of Autism in CA from 1990 to 2001
Date study concludedtop
January 1, 2009
Funded bytop
State of California

To isolate a statistically significant probably cause of Autism


More than 3,000 new cases of autism were reported in California in 2006, compared with 205 in 1990. This increase does not correlate with increased willingness or ability to diagnose this condition. Changes in how and when doctors diagnose the disorder and when state officials report it can explain less than half of the increase. In 1990, 6.2 of every 10,000 children born in the state were diagnosed with autism by the age of five, compared with 42.5 in 10,000 born in 2001.

Methods usedtop

Sample analysis. Hertz-Picciotto and Lora Delwiche of the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences analyzed 17 years of state data that tracks developmental disabilities, and used birth records and Census Bureau data to calculate the rate of autism and age of diagnosis.


California’s sevenfold increase in autism cannot be explained by changes in doctors’ diagnoses and most likely is due to environmental exposures. The researchers have theorized that a pregnant woman’s exposure to chemical pollutants, particularly metals and pesticides, could be altering a developing baby’s brain structure, triggering autism.


[+] This study was peer reviewed at the source.
[-] This study does not isolate a single environmental substance.
[+] There has been a followup study that confirms these findings: &

External Sourcestop
APA Citation(s)top
Autism diagnosis and environment. (2009).
   Retrieved January 21, 2018, from Public Studies Web site:
MLA Citation(s)top
“Autism diagnosis and environment”
   Public Studies. 1 January 2009.
   January 21, 2018. <>.
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